The role of religion in the public schools has been a prominent topic of dialogue in Carroll County for years.
While the U.S. Supreme Court continues to distance religious expression from the schoolhouse, some critics argue that the philosophical void has been filled by the creed of secular humanism, which preaches self-fulfillment without God.
Under strained interpretations of the Constitution, even the historical role of religions and religious observance have on rare occasions been shoved in the closet by nervous educators. Some Carroll teachers go as far as to argue that religions -- all religions -- are the victims of discrimination by the school system.
To that end, they've formed the Christian Educators Association of Carroll County to stand up, they say, for Judeo-Christian values in the schools. Some 75 people attended their recent meeting.
"When you start teaching values, you're getting into religion in the public schools," said Robert Foster, a founding member of the association. "That's the issue that we're going to take up right away -- that it is discrimination (against Christianity) and that we're being discriminated against."
We have seen no evidence that such discrimination exists. Nor is it evident that the values inculcated by the public school system are anti-Christian, or anti-religion.
Yet these teachers have every right to organize, as have other minority professional groups, to advocate their positions outside the classroom and to provide mutual support for members who may feel threatened. (Clearly, not all Christian educators support the group's aims.)
If the local teachers' union does not reflect their views, the CEA has every right to express its dissent. However, the new group does not expect to replace the Carroll County Education Association as the union negotiating a labor contract for the county's public school teachers.
Association organizers say they will not proselytize, although they do suggest they will argue for their values in the public school curriculum.
They should not delude themselves into thinking they can fundamentally change the character of education in Carroll County. Federal courts have already pre-empted many local school board decisions. The law of the land is clear on this issue.